Philadelphia Contracts With Motorola for New Citywide Radio System

The City of Brotherly Love soon will have a $51 million radio communications system that links its police and fire departments and other agencies to each other and a common network infrastructure.

Philadelphia's new radio network will be an 800 MHz Astro system by Motorola Inc. The system will include two 15-channel systems positioned side-by-side and connected via a Motorola Smartzone switch. The switch automatically passes communications from one site to another as users travel throughout the city.

When a user presses the radio's push-to-talk button, the system's trunking technology automatically assigns the talker a channel and then makes that same channel available to other users as soon as the communication is complete.

The "simulcast" technology allows for communications from every site of the system at the same time and ensures 95 percent coverage from portable radios carried by police officers on a beat or within city buildings. The system includes 10 sites and can operate in either digital or analog mode.

All city agencies will share a common infrastructure, but each department will be able to communicate independently and privately, and if an emergency occurs, users can be organized into more than 2,000 talk groups.

Motorola will supply the city with nearly 5,000 portable radios and 1,800 mobile radios, allowing Philadelphia to join other major cities, including Baltimore, Cleveland and San Diego, that use similar technologies.

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